Scaling To Better Measurement Requires A Stepwise Approach

Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by George W. Ivie, CEO and executive director at the Media Rating Council.

Many people in our business like to quote John Wanamaker about the inability to determine which 50% of advertising spend is wasted.

I prefer one of his other truisms: “One may walk over the highest mountain one step at a time.”

Stepwise progress describes our strategy to improve measurement through the development of standards, which will reach a historic milestone in the coming months with the release of our standards for cross-media audience measurement.

Looking back to how we’ve gotten to this point is instructive.  Since its introduction in 2014, the MRC’s viewability standard generated much conversation throughout the industry, not all of which was complimentary. But I believe its introduction accomplished two important objectives.

First, it provided an immediate benefit to the industry by creating a mechanism for removing nonviewable ad inventory from the digital advertising ecosystem. Second, it also provided a basis through which digital ad measurement eventually could be made more comparable to measurement in other media.

This second objective is being realized today through our development of cross-media measurement standards, which require an ad impression to be viewable if it’s to be considered in any calculation of the audience for that ad.

I like to remind people that viewability measurement was never intended to represent a sole end in itself and to consider how far we’ve come in just a few years.

Viewability allowed buyers and sellers to identify – and, therefore, to negotiate terms on – those ads that have an opportunity to be seen versus those that don’t. The ability to identify the waste represented by nonviewable ads has opened the door for advertisers to realize potential efficiencies of many billions of dollars over the last few years in the US alone.

Similarly, MRC’s invalid traffic guidelines have allowed buyers and sellers to identify, segment and demonetize ads that aren’t served to people by requiring filtration for every accredited digital metric. While the invalid traffic problem is far from solved, this stepwise improvement allows for further advancements in measurement to be built upon this base. The MRC’s digital audience standards, for example, require a viewable ad impression to be filtered for sophisticated invalid traffic before it can contribute to an audience calculation.

And now we’re on the verge of establishing new and revolutionary cross-media audience measurement standards that hinge, in no small part, on the comparability enabled by standardized viewability measurement for digital video ads. We believe sound cross-platform measurement is a goal that most everyone in media and advertising measurement has been striving toward for years. It’s where our primary focus should be, along with outcome metrics that likewise begin with viewable and valid impressions as a base.

In short, we’re climbing a high mountain, where cleaning up exposure measurement through viewability and invalid traffic filtration have been but incremental steps on our way to creating better measurement for the 21st-century environment in which we live.

Follow George Ivie (@gwivieMRC) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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1 Comment

  1. Krag Klages

    While I admire any sense of standardization in this industry (especially in what has become a broken mess of an adtech ecosystem), I still believe viewability as a requirement to measurement is a forest and trees scenario. If you can measure the “true” value of an ad to conversion/event, the measurement should by nature not give credit to non-viewable ads. TV ads today aren’t always “viewed” and with multiple screen situations happening en masse, one could maintain that they’re less viewed today than they’ve ever been. Creating an onus on viewability creates swirl around the need for tech specific to this area as opposed to holistic measurement. While admittedly these can be related and innovation in one can push innovation in the other, focusing the industry’s time, money, and resources in one area misses the big picture of tying identity together and attributing true conversion/event behavior to that identity (which helps with both media measurement as well as audience measurement). I still applaud the MRC for continuing to push this conversation forward.